We meet Moenen Erbuer and Tobias Boonstoppel, two young men that created Curiator.com, a social network exclusively dedicated to art lovers and art professionals. It is a collaborative art platform where users can post, share and comment on their favourite art works and connect with others that share their same passion. Moenen and Tobias tell us how the idea started and what the long-term objectives are.
Tobias/ Moenen Tell me a little about yourselves. How did you end up running Curiator?
We are an ex-Google software engineer (Tobias) and an interface designer (Moenen). We met through a common friend shortly after we each moved to New York in 2006/2007. Both of us are art enthusiasts and collectors, and we started building Curiator, above all, out of our own frustration with the complete lack of an online presence for art. We wanted to find a way to gain a broader understanding of the artistic tastes of people we knew and admired in order to get inspiration and continue to build our own art collections. Since we started working on this, a number of other art startups have sprung up, but wherever you go, it’s all about buy, buy, buy. No one seems to understand that the relationship people have with art is not transactional, but emotional. Art is so subjective, if there is ever a meaningful place for art online, it will need to focus on you, the art enthusiast. It’s about what you like, not about what we like, and definitely, not just about what is for sale.
What is Curiator? How does it work?
Curiator is your personal digital art collection where you keep your favourite art in one place and discover new art through the community. It’s an enormous and fast growing repository that is entirely user generated. It is the biggest collaborative art collection in the world. As you collect more art on Curiator, we get to understand your taste and can connect you with users and artists similar to the ones you already like and follow.
How much art do you have on the platform?
As of this writing, we have about 60,000 artworks by 20,000 artists. Because we use image recognition technology, we are able to detect and eliminate any duplicates.
Curiator is similar to Pinterest or Tumblr in the sense that it allows people to collect and post a series of images online. Why does the world need a site like this devoted exclusively to visual art?
Yes, Pinterest and Tumblr etc. do have a lot of great art mixed in, but it’s not their focus. Curiator fills that niche. If you are on Pinterest or Tumblr for the art, you’ll also have to deal with all the inspirational quotes and pictures of Ryan Gosling. The true value of Curiator, besides being exclusively dedicated to the appreciation of art, lies in the fact that we structure our data like an art catalogue. This means that every piece is catalogued under the artist who created it, plus duplicate artworks are detected and merged. And this is just the beginning. The next step will be connecting our catalogue to the world, meaning that you will be able so see which gallery is representing which artist, what museum houses what artwork, and you will be notified when artists in your collection have a show in your city.
Who is your targeted user?
Anyone with an interest towards the art world (from the general public to professionals like artists, educators, students and curators, among others). The more serious art enthusiasts and professionals use Curiator as a tool to keep track of their favourite art, and they’re the ones contributing most of our content. But for every professional or connaisseur, we have 10 who come to Curiator to discover art, to see what other people collect and to get a better idea of their own taste, perhaps as a first step towards actually buying a piece. We create value for both of these audiences; in fact, they create value for each other.
Curiator plans to eventually add a marketplace component, right? So people will eventually be able to buy art on the site?
First and foremost, we want to become the ultimate resource for art online; the largest public index of art on the Internet with a gallery for every artist in the world. As we grow towards that, we’ll be able to add value in a variety of ways, selling art being one of them. We are exploring other ways to generate revenue beyond sales. Most important for us is the user. We believe that the nicest way to discover art is through your friends, and around that idea we want to provide meaningful content and provide tools that empower you as a user to better understand and discover art, on- and offline.
Cover: Image from curiator.com
This post is also available in: Italian